I love having guests for dinner! The menu planning, creating cocktails, decorating the table, visiting with friends and family, sharing stories, food, wine and laughter is a great way to spend an evening. Growing up, my Mum and Dad entertained a lot and did it beautifully. I participated by picking out the china, folding the serviettes and setting the table. Mum would pour over recipes in her books and later in her recipe index on the computer, sending Dad off to purchase the liquor and any specialty items.They would dress up and my brother and I were allowed to stay up to meet and greet the guests. There was always laughter, smoke–yes, cigarettes were big in those days and a big clean up the next morning!
Keeping it simple, giving yourself plenty of time and planning ahead, is part of a successful dinner party. When the host is relaxing and having fun, your guests will enjoy themselves–and that is your ultimate goal. Start your first dinner party with a simple menu–don’t try a new dish that evening. Try an Italian theme, for your first dinner party, with Tomato/Bocconcini salad followed by Spaghetti with meatballs followed by gelato–decorating the table with white candles and red paper serviettes. You can serve a Cinzano on the rocks for a cocktail, make the salad ahead of time and just before serving add your fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic reduction. The spaghetti, sauce and meat balls can be cooked ahead of time and heated before serving and the gelato is a simple solution to and amazing evening. Set the atmosphere with Michael Buble and The Three Tenors during dinner.
Once you begin hosting dinner parties, barbecues or brunches, you will find it very rewarding. Your friends or family may reciprocate or they may not–perhaps they haven’t cast off their inhibitions–it is not about keeping score!
Tips for a Successful Dinner Party
- Organize the menu, make a grocery list and beverage list
- Organize your shopping list to purchase 3 or 4 days ahead–dessert, ice, sparkling water, condiments, etc
- Purchase more wine than you think you need
- Have your playlist ready or CD’s organized
- Set and decorate the table the night before
- Set up cocktail station; ensuring there is still or sparkling water on hand
- Introduce guests upon arrival–look for a common thread; after initial greeting offer a cocktail, wine or sparkling water
- Keep things simple and organized–enjoy yourself!
- Organize ahead of time a “safe ride”